This is a problem that sales managers have been trying to solve since the dawn of business. You can almost imagine a merchant circa 1300 lamenting to a friend, “What stops my traders from calling on the bigger kingdoms and getting higher prices is beyond me!” This exact conversation is going on right now in the offices of sales managers and company presidents all around the globe. The commodity may have changed but the essence of the conversation is the same. What stops my salespeople from attaining the results I know they are capable of?
According to David Stein, the CEO of ES research group, an analyst firm focused on the sales training industry, “American businesses spend over $7B a year in sales training and yet the failure rate is over 80%.” ES Research’s data shows that sales training has a motivational effect that fades with time. Stein explains, “Most salespeople revert back to their original production level within 80 days unless there is some sort of intervention that reinforces the training.”
There are many approaches to solving this problem, most of which don’t work:
Reward success: Vacations, money, and public recognition work for some. For others there is little or no motivational value. Beyond that, there is ample research that says rewards start losing their effectiveness the more you use them.
Punish failure: This can be a great motivator for certain people, but overall it has a detrimental effect on the morale of the sales organization. And once again its effectiveness tapers off with repeated use.
Upgrade selling skills: The sales manager or a hired gun comes in and teaches the sales team sales skills that they usually already know. On occasion something new is delivered that makes a difference. Sales Training does deliver a boost in sales. Unfortunately, sales usually slide back to the normal level all too quickly.
Motivation: An impassioned speech from the CEO or a flavor of the month speaker can get the entire sales team fired up and ready to take on the world. Salespeople can usually maintain the fervor for days, sometimes for weeks, but eventually their fantasy collides with the reality. And the motivation fizzles out.
External Motivation is Short-lived – Internal Motivation is Permanent
One of the key elements of sales training is its motivational effect. There are two types of motivation; external motivation, which is transitory, and internal motivation, which stays with you no matter what. Unfortunately, sales training delivers external motivation. It’s no wonder that the “high” from a great sales trainer often fizzles out quickly. Furthermore, relying on external motivation means businesses constantly have to invest in ongoing sales training just to keep pace.
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